March is National Endometriosis Awareness Month. Endometriosis is when endometrial tissue –the tissue that is normally growing inside of your uterus—starts to grow outside of the uterus on the surrounding tissues and/or organs. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, endometriosis occurs in about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and most women are diagnosed in their 30s or 40s.
Endometriosis can cause a variety of symptoms including pelvic pain and dyspareunia (pain with intercourse). Most commonly the pelvic pain is cyclical and occurring around the time of menstruation. Some women have no symptoms at all. Endometriosis can also cause problems with fertility and can lead to scarring that can make getting pregnant more difficult. Endometriosis can be treated based on clinical concern meaning based on the symptoms; however, definitive diagnosis requires laparoscopic surgery to identify the lesions and biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. Treatment depends on symptoms and if the current goal is to become pregnant or not. Medications such as over the counter pain medication (NSAIDs), hormonal birth control and other prescription medications are used to treat endometriosis. The goal of treatment is to improve pain, prevent the current lesions from increasing in size, and prevent new lesions from forming. Sometimes, surgery is performed to remove lesions caused by endometriosis with the goal of improving the patient’s pain.
The cause of endometriosis is unknown. According to the Mayo Clinic, several risk factors can increase your risk for developing endometriosis. Those risk factors include never giving birth, starting your period at an early age, going through menopause at an older age, short menstrual cycles, heavy or prolonged menstrual cycles lasting longer than 7 days, one or more relatives (mother, aunt, or sister) with endometriosis, reproductive tract abnormalities, having higher levels or estrogen in your body, low BMI, and any medical condition that prevents the normal passage of menstrual flow out of the body.
At Capital Women’s Care, we offer same day visits so we can quickly address your concerns and are here to treat and improve your symptoms!